The Pride of Hijab

The wearing of the hijab reflects the modern Muslim woman’s independence, her new world attitude in which she has a choice in whether she follows this old tradition or not. Her hijab displays her confidence to live life on her own terms and communicates the message that she is respected, intelligent and pious person in her culture. She is also purposefully not drawing attention to herself vis-à-vis the male population in certain Muslim country such as Bangladesh.

Beside religious value, this piece of folded head scarf can tell much about a woman. So, what does your hijab say about you? The colour, the style, the adornments, if any, all refelcts the individual. There could be strips or flowers that represent the softness, the brightness. These choices allow a woman to express who she is. The hijab sends clear signals about a Muslim woman and her personality. The increasing trend of wearing stylish hijabs or head scarves among young females in Bangladesh is not all about fashion nor has it been imposed upon them by Muslim parents or family. I have interviewed a hundred of young Bangladeshi women and have compiled their opinions in order to know what has most inspired them to wear the hijab.

‘When I started hijab I wasn’t sure I could continue it or not. In summer time it is very hot in Bangladesh and traveling by bus become very hard for the weather. In the beginning it was very difficult but I have seen respect for me in eyes of people as a hijabi girl. I will continue to wear hijab’ – Adiba

‘I have been suffering from bad hair. After wearing hijab it has reduced. Hijab has brought a lot of change in my look also. I am feeling new. My family says it will protect me too’ – Jannatul Ferdous

The answers of these women I interviewed surprised me. Eighty percent of the women are wearing a hijab willingly just to protect themselves from evil eyes. For them this is a self-defense mechanism. Does that mean that all of the men of the country are behaving in threatening ways? Not exactly. But women who are wearing hijabs expressed that in adverse environments such as walking through the streets alone or traveling by public transportation, men used to stare at them inappropriately. The hijabi women said they have the courage to cover up themselves and still continue to walk on the same road with dignity. Many of these girls said, a Muslim girl would not entertain a man in the street by wearing see-through, distasteful dresses. Her ‘hijab’ is her message to the world to see women who are modest, decent human beings with dignity.
 

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A few said straightforwardly, that they cannot close an ill-minded man’s eyes or his mouth but they can cover up themselves. When a man looks at a hijabi woman they see nothing but a message. That is, she is a Muslim girl and her life is ruled by Islam where there is no place for vulgarism. Her hijab is simply a reflection of her dignity.
What has inspired Bangladeshi young women to wear hijabs? Although many women were hesitant and some even refused to reveal their motives because I am a man, the following courageous women explained their reasons for wearing hijabs.

Juthi, a student

‘My hijab is my protection from all those evil eyes around me. The hijab is a message to wicked men that they no longer can stare at me rudely when I am on the road.’ – Juthi, student

‘As a NGO worker I have to travel a lot in public transport and sometime I come to home at late night. My hijab is my protection. It’s been 6-7 years I am covering myself as I had bitter experience of street harassment. Men used to look at women as if they are raping through eyes. As a woman I felt vulnerable and weak tough I used to wear modest cloth. But I have to confess from the day I started wearing Hijab men started to look at me less. I felt strong from inside’ – Siuly, NGO worker

‘As a NGO worker I have to travel a lot on public transport and sometimes I come home late at night. My hijab is my protection. It’s been 6-7 years that I have been covering myself as I had bitter experience of street harassment. Men used to look at me and other women as if they were raping us through their eyes. As a woman I felt vulnerable and weak even though I used to wear modest clothes. But I have to confess that from the day I started wearing a hijab, men started to look at me less. I felt strong inside.’ – Siuly, NGO worker

‘I am a housewife. I feel very good after I wear hijab. Even when I look at girls who wear hijab seems very respectable to me. It is one kind of self protection and my aim is to follow footsteps of pious Muslim women’ – Jesmin, housewife

‘I am a housewife. I feel very good after I wear a hijab. Even when I look at girls who wear hijab seems very respectable to me. It is one kind of self-protection and my aim is to follow footsteps of pious Muslim women’ – Jesmin, housewife

Jinat jahan 12I study in class five. My mother tells me that my hijab will protect me. Also in the Islamic religion women have to cover their bodies’ – Jinnat Jahan (12)

Kasfia

‘It’s been two months since I started wearing a hijab. I feel encouraged by so many girls nowadays wearing hijabs. Two out of five girls are wearing hijabs. For me it brings peace as my family often remains tense when I am out of the home. The hijab is my protection from all evil looks.’ – Kasfia

Jinath rehana sheuli

‘In Islam it’s mandatory for women to cover their bodies with veils. Islam gives women a respectful place in society. Since childhood I have been wearing a hijab. It has impacted my life as it is not only about folding a cloth and covering the body but it also encourages a woman to stand up and move with dignity. Because from the heart I know I am not only covering my body but also not letting men look at me badly. I believe it gives women respect.’ – Jinath Rehana Sheuli

‘As a student I have to travel everyday from home to university. After doing hijab for two years I face less eve teasing and it has given me a sense of good feeling that I am maintaining my life in the light of Islam’ – Laboni

‘As a student I have to travel every day from home to university. After wearing a hijab for two years I face less evil teasing and it has given me a sense of good feeling that I am maintaining my life in the light of Islam.’ – Laboni

Liza‘I started wearing a hijab religiously. No one has asked me to do it but I feel I should do it and it brings me respect.’ – Liza

Mumu a student

‘You can look stylish as a modern Muslim woman when you wear a hijab. It gives me protection and also makes a woman look very beautiful in a hijab.’ – Mumu, a student

Muna

‘Some girls wear hijabs in order to get a good marriage proposal or they just to do it to be in style. But for me it has come from inside. When I did not wear a hijab I experienced men who looked at women as if they were a product on the road and could eye them over any way they wanted. I have seen ill-meaning men’s expressions while on the road. But since the day I started wearing a hijab I have never faced such vulgar looks any longer. My hijab is my safety and self-respect.’

– Muna, school teacher

Lima

‘Dhaka is a very busy city though a few women travel by bus . Whenever I went outside I faced the problem that men used to look at me badly. I started feeling very angry and did not know what to do. My friend started wearing a hijab couple of months ago and advised me to also wear a hijab. After wearing a hijab I am mentally satisfied that at least I am not showing my body to people. If they still try to see me, it is their ill behavior.’ – Lima

Nahid

I am in the last semester of my MBA. I have been wearing a hijab for six years now. It wasn’t for any reason of fashion nor for conservatism. Islam encourages women to wear decent clothes and commands them to cover their heads and bodies when they go out in public. I easily can move around as I feel safe in a hijab.’ – Nahid Haque

Tania

‘As a student I have to come out of my home every day. It is very difficult to manage time to get ready. When I am wearing a hijab it help me to get ready easily. Also my family does not have to worry about me much as girls who wear hijabs face less teasing in the street.’ – Tania

Tajnuva‘Many girls are wearing hijabs for fashion. But this should not be. A hjijab is to protect you from evil eyes. The girls who are very open and show their bare skin in public are seeking attention from men. But a hijabi girl is beautiful because she realizes her inner beauty more than her outer beauty.’ – Tajnuva

Sharmin

‘A girl can wear a hijab and still be beautiful. It gives us protection and respect.’ – Sharmin

Sniya Sultana , a student

‘From my teenage years I have been wearing a hijab. It is part of being beautiful. In some universities in Dhaka a full veil is not allowed, so I choose a hijab. It is comfortable and always protective.’ – Sania Sultana, a student

‘I am teacher and doing hijab for three years. I do not support girls who are doing ti for style or take it as fashion. It remains as women protector for hundreds of years. Women felt comfort and it brings security for a decent girl who does not want to show bare skin. Some people argue a woman should not do hijab as it makes them look weak, but I completely disagree. It needs courage in a world of style where owmen tend to wear short clothes. Its Muslim women’s dignity who cover up their body and go for searching respect than seeking attention’ – Simul, Teacher‘I am a teacher and have been wearing a hijab for three years. I do not support girls who are doing it for style or who use it as fashion. It has remained as a protector for women for hundreds of years. Women feel comfortable and it brings security for a decent girl who does not want to show bare skin. Some people argue a woman should not wear a hijab as it makes them look weak, but I completely disagree. It takes courage in a world of style where women tend to wear short clothes. Its dignified Muslim women who cover up their bodies and go searching for respect rather than seeking attention.’ – Simul, teacher

subarna parvin 28, school teacher

‘I believe in modesty. It’s been three years since I have been wearing a hijab. For me it is a self-defense as it has protected me from evil eyes. I am a Muslim and a married working woman. Since the day, I started wearing a hijab I noticed that men in the streets were not bothering me insistently. It has given me a sense of dignity and I started seeing respect in people’s eyes for me. When I cannot stop evil eyes at least I can cover up myself and follow the advice that my religion gives me.’ – Subarna Parvin (28 years old), teacher

Tajlima akter

‘I have been wearing a hijab for more than eight years. My mother, grandmothers all wore hijabs or veils. It is not about style or fashion. It is mandatory for a Muslim woman to wear a hijab.’ – Tajlima Akter

Papia

‘Muslim women can be stylish like Western girls. For that there is no need to show skin. I feel a hijab makes a girl more beautiful. Not only does it protect the dignity of the girl, but it also it protects hair and skin.’ – Papia

‘Everyday more girls are doing hijab. It’s a protection from sunlight and pollution. By doing hijab I am covering my hair and wearing decent clothes. I feel very much protected since the day I am wearing hijab’ – Pihu‘Everyday more girls are wearing hijabs. It’s a protection from sunlight and pollution. By wearing a hijab I am covering my hair and wearing decent clothes. I feel very much protected since the day I started wearing a hijab.’ – Pihu

(*what is a hijab – a veil that covers the head and chest, which is often worn by Muslim women beyond the age of puberty in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family as a form of modest attire.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hijab

 

‘Chain of Love’

Life was never easy for Jarina Begum. During childhood she lost her parents in the Kamplapur railway station. She had no memory of her childhood. Lonely Jarina’s struggle never takes a break. After living here and there at the age of twelve, people from her locality gave her a marriage with Ismail. She knew nothing about family life though she started to dream. A few years went well. This was the best time of her life. But when her only son died at the age of twelve her family was shattered. Her husband got involved in drugs. Her happiness lost in darkness. She again gets back her hope during her second pregnancy. ‘Mali’ arrives as an angel in her life. She started dreaming about having a normal life again. But fate was not on Jarina’s side. She discovered when Mali was two years old that she is mentally disabled. Also when Mali was two Jarina’s husband died from taking  excess drugs. Till today ‘Disabled Mali’ is the reason to live Jarina’s Life.

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Now Jarina is only Mali’s maa. Mali behaves like a child at the age of thirteen. She has very slow mental growth. Jarina has to connect her to a chain so that she cannot flee alone while her mother went to work. She was lost twice while Jarina went to work. The tragedy of Jarina losing her own parents is like a nightmare for her. She does not want to lose Mali again. After finding her, she found a way to keep Mali at their place. She chained her with a long chain. She goes to work in the morning and works madly while feeling the tension of Mali. She collects paper from the road. She carefully crosses the road everyday as she knows if she died there is no one for Mali. With cloudy eyes Jarina said, ‘I put a chain on her leg and put a stone in my heart’. While she was saying this, Mali untied her pajama bottoms and squatted to do her toilet. Jarina swiftly wnt there and covered her daughter with a cloth. Mali is Jarina’s world.

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Jarina dreams one day Mali will be okay. Sometimes she gets upset thinking, if Mali could be like other girls, she could help her with earning a living; she could understand how hard it is to work feverishly. But Mali understands nothing. She can only feel the touch of love, the smile of affection. When Jarina ties her hair Mali gives kisses on her mother’s cheeks. When Jarina is feeding her, Mali takes some rice and puts in her mother’s mouth. They have nothing; no home, and no furniture and no utensils with which to cook. This mother and daughter have only love that is sheltering them so far.

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As street people, Jarina and Mali have nothing. They only possess a few household materials that Jarina ties up and hides in a neighbor’s place because Mali cannot take care of anything while her mother goes to work. The neighbors of Jarina help her when she goes to work. They look out for Jarina if someone comes to disturb disabled Mali. The neighbor Kalpona said, ‘There is no one for this mother and daughter. They are living for each other. We see no one like Jarina who is doing this much for Mali. We pray for their happiness.’

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Jarina Begum has now only one dream in life: to educate Mali in order to give her a normal life and to see her as an able person. Jarina pointed at the pen and drawing paper of Mali and said, ‘If there is any heartfelt person who could admit her to a school for the disabled then I can I die in peace’. While embracing Mali, Jarina lastly said, ‘Pray for us so that we, the mother and daughter, can die together. Why is life so painful?’

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‘Orange Generation’

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I grew up seeing my ancestors’ orange beards or hair. It is so common in our culture that I was hardly curious to know why older Muslim people colour their hair, beards or moustaches. With time I learned and found out that it was very natural to know  about the importance of henna in Muslim Culture.

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But for the first time I realized and wanted to know about the real motivation of different individual Muslim men and women for dyeing their grey hair. The first time I started asking the question was when many of my foreigner friends asked me about it frequently during their visits in Bangladesh. Then I started noticing that this colour is making this older generation different. So I started asking the Muslim older generation why they colour their grey beards or hair and what is it that they are so fond of?

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This series consists of portraits of men and women in Bangladesh who have dyed their hair or their beard using the orange-red colour produced by the flowering Henna plant. They shared with me why they use this henna in particular. It’s very common in Bangladesh to see one older person in five old people with orange hair (male or female), and men with orange beards or orange moustaches.

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During Ramadan dying hair or beards is a very common practice as Henna dying comes from religious beliefs too. It has been believed that the Prophet Muhammad (SM) dyed his beard and hair as well. Some men and women who have returned from the Haaj, the Islamic pilgrimage also practice Henna dying. Not only in Bangladesh, but many Muslims across all continents apply Henna dye and coat their hair to get this bright coloured look.

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For those who did not reference religion as playing a role in their decision to color their hair, they consider it admirable to do so. They believe, Henna covers their head and body and makes them look good in their old age. Therefore, for some other elderly people, especially women, Henna is mostly used as a cosmetic thing for their grey hair.  A lot of men also see a red beard as preferable to a grey or white beards.  Besides this reason many older persons usually follow this practice for cultural or traditional reasons, as they saw that older generations always prefer henna dying.

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Why did you use Henna dye?

Answers of question:

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‘I am not old. We all eat polluted food and that causes hair loss and greying is faster. Henna helped to hide my grey hair. Grey means old’ – Mohamaad Sagir

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‘It’s our Sunnat. Our Prophet Muhammad used it’ – Gias Uddin

abdul majid

‘Henna helps to clam down my head and body. I dye my hair every month.’ – Abdul Majid

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‘I use henna dye because I love to do it. What else!’- Yusuf Haulader

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‘I love color more than grey. It’s my fashion. Ha ha ha’ – Mohammad Oli

obaidullah

‘It distinguishes Muslim. It is our culture’ – Obaidullah

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‘Who likes grey hair? I want to be young. Ha ha ha’ – Kashem

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‘Most of my friends do henna dying. For the last two years I am doing it also’ – Gias Uddin

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‘Since I have come from the Haaj I started applying Henna to my hair. It has religious value’- Abdul Samad

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‘Not only have I, but my wife has dyed her hair to hide the grey. Both of us want to remain young. Ha ha ha’ – Abdul Kader

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‘It’s our tradition, our Muslim tradition’ – Amina

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‘My grandfather did it, my father did it and now I am doing it. All older Muslim people love to practice this generation after generation.’ – Mohammad Alam

 

‘Feet tell stories’

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Brick field labouer’s feet tell their tales. Thousands of men, women and children continue tolling in the open brick fields. Their muddy clothes, smudged coal colored skins and bare feet tell the tale about how everyday they are fighting to live a life. I continue to search their stories of struggle about how their hope transform into despair. Once a labourer stopped me to take his portrait and asked me to take an image of his feet and said, ‘Show our feet. It’s enough to explain what we are up to.’

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Under the baking hot tropical sun, Moriyum (7 years old) continues to collect coals in the most perilous conditions even though everyone goes to lunch. Just after shifting 1000 bricks to dry in the sun, Moriyum’s brother Mohsin (9 years old) also goes to lunch. But Moriyum continued to collect coal for her family.

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Working children are a common sight at the brickworks as they regularly employ entire families – who oftentimes make their homes on site. Education is a luxury for Bangladesh’s rural poor with children often earning their keep as soon as they can walk. Ranging in age from young children to grandparents, they work long hours to mix out millions of bricks to fuel construction boom that shows no signs of abating. The high chimneys of brick fields are snot only pouring grey smoke into the air but also blowing it into labourer’s lungs. All of the brick fields are located along rivers. Millions of bricks are burned here. Almost all bricks are made using a 150-year-old technology. Soil is mixed with water, formed into bricks using wooden forms, then left to dry in the sun before being burned in traditional kilns. The process is done almost entirely by hand.

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Kohinoor who was balancing the heavy loads atop her head said, ‘We work like slaves. And we die like slaves.’ Kohinoor’s mother-in-law died last year while working in the brick filed. Another woman who has worked a decade in the field was badly suffering from tuberculosis and headaches. Kohinoor added, ‘We know we will die by working here, but we have no option.’

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Brick-making provides a better income than agriculture or other jobs available in rural Bangladesh, but it is dangerous and often devastating to workers’ health. Accidents are common and workers have no protective gear except save for what they are able to cobble together themselves. 

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By balancing the heavy loads atop their heads, workers must carry the raw mud to the brick making area are where skilled artisans shape it using brick moulds filled by hand. However, the millions of workers who make the bricks face harsh and uncertain conditions. Brick field labourer Makbul said, ‘Everything tastes like mud. I taste mud in my mouth, tongue, throat everywhere.’ By showing the feet of Makbul’s friend, Jasim said, ‘We are brick human. We have feet like coal.’

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Like Makbul and Jashim, hundreds of men come with their families during the brick session in the brick fields. They made their temporary shelter near the brick field in the place given by the brick field owner. The mud house’s bed is made by brick after brick and then putting plastic over the bricks where they rest and sleep. They took loan from the brick field owner which and continue to pay it back by giving labour with full family. Small children of each family works to dry thousands of brick every day. For drying 1000-5000 bricks a child gets 25-50 taka daily. That also goes into the pocket of father for buying food for the family. The Father and mother of each family go to work before sun rise. They carry 12-16 bricks each weighting 2.5kg. For a twelve-hour workday during which an average worker carries about five thousand bricks, he earns Tk. 80 after his expenses are paid. This means toiling 12 hours a day for a daily wage of 120 taka (USD 1.70) for men and 100 taka (USD 1.40) for women.

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Still they hope for a better life and perhaps dream of happiness. During his break, after lighting a cigarette Motahar said, ‘My wife often asks me to take her to the cinema. We have no money left after basic shopping at the bazaar and paying loans. But she managed to save and bought an old phone for me. Now while I work, I listen to songs.’

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(Brick fields are not only causing suffering for labourer but for the environment also. Bangladesh is hit harder than almost any other country in the world by climate change despite emitting very little greenhouse gases. But still the emissions from the brick kilns hurt the environment. Brick kilns are the leading cause of air pollution in the country. There are about 5000 brick kilns in Bangladesh, which are largely responsible for air pollution. Dust from the brick-making sites spreads in the wind to nearby towns and villages clogging the lungs of young and old and generates health problems that the country is ill-equipped to handle. The chimneys continue to poison labourer lives and as well as letting the environment to suffer in silence)

 

‘Realm of Illusion’

‘My camera is a vessel to reach to my dream. I started documenting suffering and find beauty in ugliness, happiness in despair, dreams in suffocation. I am just a poor storyteller who has nothing but a suitcase full of tales’ – GMB AKASH

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Love is my religion; unity is my faith/ www.akash-images.com

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If you taste the love, you are already rich/ www.akash-images.com

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I am on a journey to seek the remedy of Life / www.akash-images.com

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When I take off the mask from my soul, I find the beauty of living/ www.akash-images.com

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May everyone who loves God honor the path of everyone else. May all the sacred scriptures be universally cherished as the treasures of all mankind / www.akash-images.com

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I continue to search for myself / www.akash-images.com

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The beauty of life is hidden in the HOPE and in the possibilities of life itself/ www.akash-images.com

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Every person has a story and an end/ www.akash-images.com

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To taste life prepare to taste thousands of deaths / www.akash-images.com

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Living a simple life is hardest because the whole world continues to show you greed in the name of happiness

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If you seek to know the truth of universe, you’ll have the power of the whole universe with you

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For living life once I cut off the wings of my soul, now for tasting life I cut out my greed. That’s how my journey starts/ www.akash-images.com

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You live in the world and my world lives in me/ www.akash-images.com

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My race begins of deriving the internal peace / www.akash-images.com

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You have done everything to feed your body, what have you done to feed your soul

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You can get life if you can get rid of fear/ www.akash-images.com

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I can only take a look at my own soul and follow its map / www.akash-images.com

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“Sometimes I feel – I am wearing perfume in the middle of the desert” – GMB Akash

Women of Worth

“Sometimes the strongest women are the ones who love beyond all faults, cry behind closed doors, and fights battles that nobody knows about. This blog post is dedicated to honour women who are living at the edge of the society and continue their fighting to earn food and dignity, who merely ever come in the world’s limelight; even the society they are living have never appreciated their bravery. I have met with many of them, discovered closely how women have worked for the greater good and brought about change in their families and society. This is a way to tribute to a mother, sister, wife, daughter, friend and the many roles she plays in life. These personalities have made me understand that nothing can kill the spirit of a woman and that makes her incredibly beautiful” – GMB Akash

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Many women have broken away from tradition, knowing fully it leads a tough road to walk/ www.akash-images.com

Women at work (2)Be fearless/ www.akash-images.com

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A woman cannot be free until she is financially free/www.akash-images.com

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Each time a woman stand up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women/ www.akash-images.com

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In diversity there is beauty and there is strength/ www.akash-images.com

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Success isn’t measured by your wins, it’s the size of the challenges you overcame/ www.akash-images.com

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Living life on the edge with dream/ www.akash-images.com

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The strongest actions for a woman is to love herself, be herself and shine amongst those who never believed she could/ www.akash-images.com

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Dreams don’t work unless you do/ www.akash-images.com

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You have to do what is right for yourself; nobody else is walking in your shoes/ www.akash-images.com

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Be an encourager/ www.akash-images.com

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When a woman wants she can become an unstoppable force/ www.akash-images.com

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Nothing can dim the light that shines from within/ www.akash-images.com

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 Don’t let anyone stop you from your goals, dreams and true happiness/ www.akash-images.com

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Yesterday is nothing more than a lesson. Today is who you are/ www.akash-images.com

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Be yourself. Life is what you make of it/ www.akash-images.com

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There’s nothing damnable about being a strong woman. The world needs strong women/ www.akash-images.com

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Don’t let anyone to dull your sparkle/ www.akash-images.com

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Never ask the question, can I do it? Just go with ‘I will do it’. Your determination will always take you a long way to your dream, so hold on to it/ www.akash-images.com

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She is the best when you believe in herself/ www.akash-images.com

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 You are the force of nature/ www.akash-images.com

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Follow your heart to be the best that you can be/ www.akash-images.com

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Courage may be the most important of all virtues, because without it one cannot proactive any other virtue with consistence/ www.akash-images.com

Women today are now coming into their own. They are their own heroes. The power to change their lives lies within them. However well accomplished a woman may be she takes on guilt and responsibility far more easily than a man does. She is conditioned to believe that everyone and everything is her responsibility. Sometimes, she forgets that she has a responsibility towards herself. Accept and love yourself because there is just one YOU!

 

‘Life on Fire’

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Now-a-days Beauty Begum (45) cannot remember anything. Even a few days ago she could remember everything, from her bazaar list to TV serial’s schedule. At present she is forgetting everything. In front of her eyes in the hospital bed lays the horrifically burnt body of her husband, Jamed (42). Somehow this is no longer affecting her. Now she is constantly thinking about the doctor’s prescription of eggs, lemons and malta’s increasing prices. Her savings of many years from their daily bazaar profits is now in the pennies. Now she worries about her husband’s job that he did for 15 years as a temporary employee. She felt helpless about the increasing price of eggs and lemons; she doesn’t know how to give courage to her terrified son who is supposed to attend the Secondary Board examination. She is overly concerned how to pay 2500 taka of her house rent. Moreover, the burnt body of her husband is repeatedly moaning in pain at night, not letting her sleep for a second. All in all, Beauty Begum is forgetting everything.

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It is not only the middle class housewife, Beauty Begum who has been thunderstruck with this perverse reality. Labourer Jamir Ally’s wife Parvin, who came from a village, is as well speechless. Her eyes moisten while she feeds labourer Jamir Ally. Sometimes she gets scared to see how painfully the petrol bomb has burnt her innocent husband who has worked tirelessly just to feed their children. The labourer man who used to return home at night with their bazaar used to crack jokes all the time. Poverty never hit them as much as this disaster and happiness was always there in their wrecked house. Still now he wants to talk, wants to explain how horrible it was to be burnt with fire. Having deep pain in his eyes tired Parvin whispered, ‘Poor people have to go through a lot of difficult tests in order to survive in this cruel world.’

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Dhaka Medical’s Burn Unit is only a temporary address for those who now do not know about the time, date or day. The constant unbearable pain, the smells of burnt infected flesh, the harsh dread running through the body and the uncertainty for the future: this is the present for innocent people who have been burnt by petrol bombs during the strike. One such victim, 20 year-old Nazmul expressed his terror to his mother by saying, ‘People burnt by petrol will not live long, will they, Maa?’ The mother who has not eaten or drunk anything for three days while Nazmul was in critical condition could not answer him properly just cried and said, ‘Your maa will die if something happens to you bazan (son).’ Wounded Nazmul came out from the burning bus by using his hands. On the 26th January the petrol bomb in the Jatrabari bus has devastated Nazmul’s future and life. Still Nazmul is dreaming of recovering; still he is trying to console his mother, and hoping to live a longer life.

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Like Nazmul, a lot of injured people are trying to believe in destiny. Mr. Billal (26) has given the name to his first child, ‘Sinha’. After getting married two years ago Billal thought life will take a right turn. A Petrol bomb has shattered his family, the future of their three month’s old Sinha and Billal’s entire reality.

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Beside Billal’s bed is pickup driver Najmul Islam who is shouting in pain, ‘I will die, please do something, please do something.’ Unmarried Najmul took a loan of 11 kah and bought a pickup van two months ago. During the strike a petrol bomb hit his new van and him. His past, present and future all is now in despair.

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Gravely injured seventy year-old Abu Taher is constantly calling Allah, in pain he keeps continuing to say. ‘La Ilaha Illahallah’. In insupportable pain such an old man has been suffering days and nights. It seems pain has no end.

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The white bed sheet of hospital has wrapped Alsam (19) very well. His mother is continuously fanning him, touching his head and hair, calling him and saying, ‘Have a look Aslam, see who has come to see you. Open your eyes bazan (son)’. Aslam’s mother continues to call him but he will never answer her again. Alsam went to another place; a place from where no one can answer.

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(Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), Burn Unit doctors said that most of the petrol bomb victims were burnt from 20 percent to 40 percent of their bodies. Out of a total of 111 patients who are having medical treatment in DMCH burn unit, 61 are in critical condition. A continuous blockade interspersed with hartals (general strikes) has been going on since the 6th January, 2015. It was called by the 20-Party Alliance demanding the resignation of the Awami League government which came into power through the one-sided election of the 5th January. The protests have become increasingly violent and nearly 1,000 vehicles have been torched or vandalized. The security forces have in turn arrested more than 10,000 opposition supporters while more than a dozen protesters have been shot dead, prompting allegations of a shoot-to-kill strategy.There has been an outbreak of violence and innocent ordinary people are being killed. Petrol bomb attacks on vehicles in Bangladesh are leaving people dead, destroying families and terrorizing normal society)

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